We are in a golden age of comic book movies. Films like Avengers: Infinity War dominate both the box office and the general culture, but there was a time when that was unthinkable. One film from that time was Men in Black. Based on a comic of the same name, Men in Black released in 1997 and starred Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith.
If you didn’t know this film was based on a comic and missed it in the opening, you wouldn’t have guessed it was. Front and center, it’s a sci-fi movie about a non-government agency that polices aliens on earth. Sprinkling in elements of a buddy cop comedy, Men in Black works best from the interactions of its leads. Working well off of each other, Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are fun and believable in their roles.
Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith play the films main characters, Agents K and J respectfully.
Vincent D’Onofrio plays Edgar, who is later more commonly known as “the Bug,” the film’s antagonist. We also have two main side characters of an NYC coroner, Laurel Weaver, and the leader of the MiB, Agent Zed, played by Linda Fiorentino and Rip Torn respectfully.
I enjoy the performances from Will Smith and Vincent D’Onofrio the most out of this film. Smith starts off perfectly cocky and is constantly being humbled, making apparent that he doesn’t know everything that is going on in the world. D’Onofrio, on the other hand, is able to really make you think that he’s not from this world. I tend to find that I enjoy these two actors in most of the films that they work on, be it something like Hitch in Smith’s case or Full Metal Jacket for D’Onofrio
Men in Black has so many things going on within it that seeped its way into pop culture over the years. Two stick out the most to me: the line “I make this look good” and the use of Ray-Ban designer sunglasses. The line itself was repeated so many times after the movie released that it became so ingrained in peoples minds and is still being said today.
I have no memory of the Ray-Ban brand before this film in general, let alone the Predator 2 glasses; but after Men in Black, these glasses were everywhere. Ray-Ban went so far as to report that because of Men in Black the sales of the Predator 2 style tripled.
Watching this film again so many years after it’s original release, I was surprised with just how well the special effects hold up. Most of the aliens are done with animatronics, and the ones that are computer generated still look believable.
There is one thing I don’t remember noticing before but did this time. The letters used for the agents are not just next to each other in the English Alphabet symbolizing their partnership but they are also directly connected to the character themselves. Agent K’s real name is Kevin Brown and Agent J’s is James Darrell Edwards III.
Men in Black is more of a sci-fi movie than it is a comic book movie, and that works in its favor. It reaches a broader audience because it’s more about aliens on earth and finding that out instead of the craziness that can come with comic books. I do recommend this film for anyone wanting to turn their minds off and watch an entertaining movie. The comedy in the movie is acceptable for viewers of all ages, and the action is never done in a way that would cause me to not recommend it for younger audiences. Enjoyable throughout, it’s a film I’d recommend for viewers of all ages.